Samwise Gamgee, last of the ring bearers in the great War of the Ring, and lover of all things clean and simple on this blessed Middle Earth, stood on the quay. His eyes, no longer keen with the many years he carried, squinted at the sharpness of the sunlight on the water and his ears no longer heard the small, soft tongues of water lapping at the rocky shoreline. His Rose was gone now, and with her departure had vanished all vestiges of the life he had known and cherished in his beloved Shire.
Sam sighed and tossed a small stone into the water. He could only now evoke without tear or regret the image of her lying in soundless repose upon her small granite bier. A crown of sweet and fragrant elanor wreathed her tiny gray head as she slept and the years had in no way dulled her countenance; rather they had softened and honed it to an infinitely greater wisdom and beauty than she had reflected even in the early days of their lives. He recalled the memory her scent, warm and comforting, and the brightness of her smile and the music of her laugh, yet Sam could not, on that day, recall the faces of his children or of Merry or Pippin or of the great king Elessar and his queen Arwen Undomiel or any of those who stood to honor the passing of Mistress Rose.
A firm yet polite tap on his shoulder interrupted his thoughts and he blinked. Turning slowly and somewhat creakily as an aged hobbit will tend to do, he beheld the shipwright Cirdan, who’s silver hair flowed long and gracefully over his shoulders and who’s grey eyes held the wisdom of many stars. Mighty in his majesty and years and towering over even the tallest of the ancient race of Numenor, he bowed low and gestured to the dock.
“Your ship, Master Gamgee, awaits you.” Sam looked up and beheld a grey ship; it’s approach had gone unnoted and it’s great deck was empty for none stood upon it. Sam had no memory of how long he had been waiting but the sun was now surrendering the last of its warmth and the gulls no longer cried out over the quiet of the water. It was time to go. Leaning upon the strength of Cirdan’s arm, Sam slowly ascended the wooden plank and boarded the ship.
He made little note of the ship itself; its demeanor or scheme. Cirdan stood behind the great wheel and guided the vessel from the harbor and out into the vast expanse of the great western sea and he spoke no word nor made no gesture for none were needed. Samwise ate and slept below the deck and the days and nights became as one and he found that somehow he could now scarcely recall the faces or voices of those he had loved. He sighed wi!@#$lly as he struggled with images that were mere pale shadows of the people he had known. The sea began calling to him; he could hear his name whispered upon the waves and all seemed lost and the world had turned around; it’s ever-spinning circles hurling him far from all that he had known and loved, and he was weary but his heart no longer ached for Rose, for each day found him fading deeper into some unknown realm which took him past all knowledge or recollection of his days upon Middle Earth.
Sam opened his eyes. The ship, which had rocked him and carried him for days uncounted, was no longer moving. He shakily arose and although famished, (he was, after all, still very regular about his meals) he uncharacteristically passed by the galley and hobbled up from below the deck and out into the bright sunlight. He squinted as his bleary eyes adjusted to the sharpness of the light, and peered about, and as he did so there slowly came into view a vast expanse of emerald and a sky of lapis and upon the grass stood many of the fair Elven Folk and they sang and welcomed him:
We who dwell beyond the sea
rejoice the gift afforded thee.
That in such hour of loss and need,
and greatness of thy word and deed,
ever may thy heart be freed.
And he stood upon the deck of the great grey ship and Cirdan nodded silently and put down the plank and Samwise Gamgee stepped at last upon the Undying Lands and it was as if he was reborn, for he beheld with eyes no longer dimmed with the passage of time, the glory of the Valar. His heart rejoiced as the song of the Elves rang clear and pure in his ears and he knew that at last he was home. And they were there; all of them: Elrond and Galadriel and Celeborn and Galdalf and all the rest who had taken ship. Off to one side stood two small, youthful figures and they approached him and he wept, for they were Frodo and Bilbo, and yet… they were not, for no mark of age nor care was upon them, and Frodo smiled and embraced him and said: “I’m glad to be with you, Sam. Here at the beginning of all things.”